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Victor Gotell praying for living kidney donor

By Sherri Ellington Whether it is Christ, cooking or coaching, Victor Gotell has given back to his home community. Now he is in need of a kidney and is asking the community to help him back. His letter requesting testing for a live kidney donor is in this week’s issue of The Herald Gazette. ‘I’ve had a great support system through all my illnesses, especially from my friends Alex Richardson and Cedric Fallings,’ he said. ‘I like to attend church and family activities with my wife Sharon.’ As a deacon at Bethel Baptist Church for the last 10 years, he is active in the church’s ministry programs, especially for youth. He has mentored 15 to 20 young men, a form of giving back to his own mentors, pastor James C. Marable of Bethel, Milton Tyler of Griffin, Freeman Respress of Thomaston, Kelly Thrash of Jacksonville, Fla., Bernard Ogletree and Danny Turner. ‘I love to introduce Christ to others,’ he said. ’I work part-time at all the school cafeterias and I’m a community football coach at the high school. I got to go to the dome this year.’ He thanks the high school cafeteria staff, George Altman, Adrian Banks and the class of 1995 for their help. Gotell also gets support from friends Alex Richardson, Cedric Fallings and Nikita Jefferson. He is the proud father of Trojan standout Sidarius Gotell, who is now at Birmingham Southern College in Alabama, listing his son’s all-A honor status as a graduate ‘“ the eighth in his class ‘“ and his studentathlete, highest grade point average and other awards. ’He excelled at football all three years and ran track and field,’ said Victor. ‘He had the highest average in world history.’ Victor has been married to Sharon for 12 years. She is a teacher for the Griffin-Spalding County school system. He dropped by the newspaper office while out and about on Valentine’s Day, both their anniversary and her birthday. ’I’ve got a lot going on,’ he said. ‘My beautiful wife covers me, prays for me, encourages me and inspires me to give God my best every single day.’ Other family members include his sister Tammie Terrell, nephew Arnez Gantt, uncle Clyde Lyons, the Miller family of Macon, the Virden and Gotell families of Barnesville and Macon. The son of the late Willie James and Gretchen Gotell, his parents grew up in Lamar County. His father was a law enforcement of ficer in the 1970s then owned the Rib Shack in Atlanta. He was also a crew leader over four security guards. He is the head chef of Gretchen’s Catering Service, named for his mother. ’My mother always worked around food,’ he said. ‘She started at the primary school and Ponderosa and spent the rest of her day cooking at the Pastime Grill.’ A cook about 15 years now, his favorite things to prepare are barbecued ribs and chicken and squash casserole, though he has been seen at the Back to School Bash manning the hot dog and hamburger grill. ’My mother and father both died of diabetes at age 45, my father in 1993 and my mother in 1996. I was surrounded by a series of deaths, including my grandfather and uncle, all within a four-year span. Despite all the losses it didn’t make me bitter, it made me better,’ he said. ‘My Auntie Marguriette Grady took care of me. I want to tell my family, friends and loved ones how much I appreciate them and let people in the community know I appreciate them taking the time to share with someone about my condition. To whom much is given, much is required. What you make happen for others God will make happen for you.’ In January 2000 Gotell was diagnosed with diabetes that led to the below the knee amputation of his right foot. ’It was a major setback but it was just another obstacle I had to face,’ he said. ‘I’d always encourage myself and say I lost a foot, but I never lost a step. Everything I was doing before the surgery I was back to doing without anybody knowing, besides the changing of my eating habits and checking my blood sugar six to eight times a day.’ His kidney disease is being treated by several specialists in diabetes and endocrine disorders, including the Emory team, Dr. Thomas Jones, Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Luke in Macon and DSI Dialysis in Thomaston. ’I want to give them a shout-out for the great way I’ve been treated,’ he said. ‘It’s my prayer we’ll have someone come forth who will get tested for a possible match so I can receive a kidney in the near future.’

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